My experience with Postnatal Depression was unexpected, something I never thought I would have to worry about. I had experienced some circumstantial depression after the birth of my first child but quickly dealt with it myself.
After a significant family history of mental health conditions. I have always made a huge effort to always be aware and work positively on my mindset. I have had many times in my life when things were hard or difficult, but growing up I learned to identify and turn around any negative thinking quickly. Focusing on the positive, considering the alternatives when things are bad became second nature for me. Remembering, that every time I encounter a difficult period it is an opportunity for growth.
At the end of 2019, none of my normal in-built automatic mechanisms were working.
I felt lost.
Like a failure.
I would cry driving to work.
I would cry coming home.
I did not feel like the best thing for my children.
My youngest was 18months old. My eldest had started prep that year.
My husband asked me to see our General Practitioner. When I spoke to her, I remember crying, big ugly tears, when she asked why I was there.
I simply asked “Can you help me get better? Can you help me be me?”
That day I started antidepressants. I was told that PND (postnatal depression) can actually commence any time in the first 2 years after birth and that most mums with a few children get it at this time. I also was told that sometimes depression is completely chemical and that no amount of inner tools and techniques will help this kind of depression.
Beyond Blue state that 1 in 10 women experience antenatal depression, while 1 in 6 women experience postnatal depression in the 12months post-childbirth.
‘Panda’ states 1 in 10 dads experience anxiety and depression in the time between the first trimester and the first 12months of their baby’s lives.
- low mood, feeling numb
- feeling close to tears
- angry, resentful, irritable,
- fear for baby/fear of being alone with the baby
- fear of alone/going out
- loss interest in things normally interest
- recurring negative thoughts
- appetite changes
- feeling unmotivated/unable to cope normally
- withdrawing social contact/not looking after self
- thoughts of harm
- feeling inadequate/failure/worthless/helpless/empty/sad
Partners are often the person who notices something is not right and they will also play a huge role in improving. While partners play a huge role, this can also be supplemented or substituted (depending on circumstances) by family, friends, and support networks.
For me, I was surrounded by people who have undergone the same and so the support and care I received was second to none and I will forever be grateful for the love during this time.
Partner Support includes –
- communication – open, honest, picking appropriate times, listening, and remembering you are each going through a new phase and a new adjustment
- not offering advice, but discussing what assistance would help, housework, spending time with children (in or out of the house), childcare options
- Encourage self-care and coping strategies – exercise, talking, time out, social, helping to facilitate the measures that are going to be helpful.
Treatment can include everything from including self-care strategies such as diet and exercise to medication or counseling.
There is ‘no one size fits all’, and that is something that requires discussion with a health professional to decide what best benefits you and your family.
“Sometimes you don’t have a choice about what happens to you, necessarily, but what you do have control over is how you deal with it.”
So what now?
- How are you feeling right now? Be honest with yourself
- How can you implement small steps to feel better about yourself each day? Maybe being mindful, maybe taking a walk with the kids?
- Talk to your partner, your friends, your family, your support network. They are here to support you through good and bad. Let them in.
- Talk to a professional if you need help.